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Autumn in Door County is a favorite time of year for good reason: there’s magic in the air. Sunny days light up the colorful leaves, creating spectacular views all across the peninsula. Cooler temperatures encourage cozying up by the bonfire and enjoying a savory meal. As summer concludes, the county welcomes a slower pace. Come find your fall magic this season.

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Bob Purman on Becoming a "Cider Guy"

Bob Purman takes no credit for getting in on the cider boom. When he created Island Orchard Cider in 2011, he thought it would be a hobby.

Purman had a successful career in film production in Milwaukee but became inspired by cider flavors on visits to see his wife’s father in Brittany, France. He planted an orchard on Washington Island in 2005, opened a tasting room in Ellison Bay in 2011, and says he’s “100-percent a cider guy now.”

We caught up with him to find out how a film guy from Milwaukee fell in love with the most remote place in Wisconsin and became a cider maker.

How did you end up getting into making cider?
Bob Purman (BP): Cider was taking off, but I can’t take credit for seeing that coming. I was inspired by French Normandy-styled ciders. My wife’s father lives in France and we would visit him and drink cider, but there wasn’t much of that style here. I had the farm, nobody else was doing it, so it made sense. My wife was in a super-competitive industry, so the idea just sort of grew on us.

Where do you source your apples?
BP: Many are from our orchard on Washington Island. But we also get some from Seaquist Orchards and Wood Orchard. The apples we use are not great for eating, as they’re high in tannin. But they produce more complex flavors for cider than regular apples.

When did you start the orchard on Washington Island?
BP: We started that in 2005. Now we have about 2,500 apple trees and 250 pear trees. That’s still not enough to keep up with production though, so that’s why we source from other orchards in the county. We also grow hazelnuts for some other in-house products.

How did you end up with property on the island?
BP: I have been coming up to Door County since I was a kid. When I was 16 I drove up here on a motorcycle and got a job working at Krist’s Red Owl in Sister Bay. My wife Yannique and I would sail from Milwaukee to Rock Island with our kids for a week each summer. We would go to the big island and do the Cherry Train tour, and she would give us an in-depth tour of the island. We just fell in love with it. In 1995 we bought a house, and now we own a 40-acre farm with a 7-acre orchard.

What was it that struck you about the island? What did you fall in love with?
BP: I think that what we really loved was an out-of-time type of feeling. It was sort of the Door County that I used to know. Not that it’s bad anywhere else, it’s just different now. The island is so laid back, so small town.